Tuesday, December 8, 2009

'Purpose, Driven by Obsession'

WARNING: I messed up the font and size of this whole mess of words. I can't get it back, perhaps it is an allegory of my present state of mind: All over the place. The change of font and size of font is not my attempt to be fancy or creative. It will not, however, harm you in any way, you may read without fear of brain injury or any other bodily harm.

It's been raining in Austin on and off now for two weeks. Still, there are breaks in the rain, and then its off to the dog park. 'Baby' is always a big hit there, she gets plenty of attention, and completely ignores me. Okay, enough dog talk. "Baby did this, Baby did that...blah, blah, blah..."

Because we don't have a television or internet services, we have to hit the coffee shop to write or get out e-mail. For movies, we either have to rent or hit the matinees. I saw Precious yesterday, and can't get it out of my mind. It was the first film I've been to in quite awhile that I have actually needed a handkerchief. I challenge you to see that movie without shedding a few tears. It is one film that will give you a feeling of gratitude for your own circumstances. I also loved it because it shows what a powerful influence a teacher can be in someone's life. I want to teach at that school in the film! I think one of the reasons (of the many) I miss teaching is well...that moment. That moment you wait for when you can say something to effect a life. "Like apples of gold, in settings of silver, is a word spoken in the right circumstance." Proverbs, NAS. I also miss the peace that happens within you as you feel your purpose is being fulfilled. The young woman in this film survives because of a teacher. Powerful material, and great film making.

The other film I can't get out of my head is Tommy Lee Jones's The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. A great moral tale, tightly written and brilliantly executed. I had seen it before, but like with some films, you have to watch it again to get everything you missed. The analogy of life is so very powerfully drawn in this film, and without going into minute detail, it is clearly a film about how differently a life can be driven. Of the two primary characters, one is driven by a fulfillment of a promise to a friend, and the other character is driven by the consequences of the choices he has made. Although both characters have to experience much of the same 'hell', the Tommy Lee Jones character does it with a powerful reason. If you haven't seen this film, go out and rent it, today! I think life is driven by both, purpose and consequence.

Onward. I want to repost a comment made by a good friend of mine from Boulder. I won't mention his name, but I thought it was a great comment, and I've thought about it many times since I read it.

Raymond -
Compulsion: Psychology - a strong and usually irresistible impulse to perform an act, esp. one that one that is irrational or contrary to one's will.
Obsession: the domination of ones thoughts by a persistent image, idea or desire.
Irrational: deprived of sound judgement/good sense.
Perhaps these are all components of the definition of artist, as it seems that those who we revere for the ability to persevere in the face of adversity to produce something new and unique, if genuine, are to some degree mad. Don Quixote is admired and ridiculed for his desire to live in his own world of tilting at windmills. We, your audience, love you for being unique, but I wonder if we truely appreciate the cost to you. Or, the pain of your slide back into the reality of economy and the world of bills, food, transportation, housing, etc.
God bless the artist!

I think these definitions are truly great observations that define the angel/demon paradox of the artist. As I grow older, and introspective, I realize how irrational some of my behavior has been and is currently, dominated by obsession. I know that there are plenty of those who create without these variables, but I think there are many who 'have to' use art as an outlet, not only to 'make sense out of things', but survival depends on it. As one begins to look backwards with more frequency to make sense of the present and the future, the questions become another paradox, they become both simpler and more complicated. A mind that doesn't have restraint tends to continue tearing into the unknown, or wrestle with issues that cannot be controlled by the human will. My obsession got me here, my reality is 'kicking my ass'. I'm closest to my original 'obsession' immediately after a show, (unbelievably elated) and yet when I wake up the next day, I have to navigate the complexities of getting through a day in a strange land. Although I feel as though I have taken my experiences of life on the road with me, it feels at times as if I'm starting over again in every city I move to. Although I'm usually prone to 'living in the moment', lately, my thoughts most are spent thinking about where all this will land. Is all of this just another form of self-destruction, or does it really have meaning? Forgive me if this seems self-indulgent and confusing, I'm just now sorting some of it out. Journaling for the public, I suppose, writing letters to the universe. Physician, heal thyself...

Some more of the book. Yes, the click has occurred, I'm writing it.

"My father has vanished into the desert,
I cannot find my father's boots or his felt hat.
I cannot find his western shirt of the wrangler jeans he wore,
I cannot find his bear claw belt buckle or his soft white handkerchief.
My father is still in the desert."

On the seventh day after my Father had disappeared into the desert, I was being prepped for surgery to have my hip replaced. For six years, I had tried to ignore the stabbing pain in my side, choosing instead to hike the peaks in Phoenix, Arizona, five times a week, believing that eventually, this act of discipline would lead to its complete healing. I had no way of knowing that my hip had always had a tiny deformity from birth, and there would be no 'quick fix'. After moving through a series of doctor's and consultations, I finally accepted what I had been denying for years, and found a surgeon that could operate on me the first part of December, of 2005.

After arriving in St George for my surgery, I had a decision to make. Should I go ahead with the operation that had been scheduled for several months, or should I cancel it and wait for the outcome of this latest disappearance of my father? Afterall, this was certainly not the first time he had disappeared, in fact, the previous three winters that he had spent with me, it was something that happened often. He would simply get in his truck, (or start walking) sometimes, being gone for days. This was not so uncommon for him to do. My father, however, never had great timing for whatever began to motivate him, often 'disappearing' at the one moment when it was the most difficult to deal with.

I got a phone call early the previous Thursday morning, informing me that my father had somehow found the keys to his truck at my aunt's house, and had taken off, saying he was going to Phoenix to 'see his kids'. Two days before, I had called him to remind him that I was coming to St George for surgery, and he was coming there to stay with me.

Near the end of his life,

he could not remember five minutes ago,

but still knew the words to a thousand songs

knew the melodies

harmonies in triplet,

still mourning the loss of his mother—

crooning that lonesome memory.


Cheryl said...

Yes keep writing this story. There are so many formats and genres that it can be told and they will all make a difference and feed the other. Austin is a good place for you to be especially since there is 8 to 10 inches on new snow on your trailer right now, but we still miss you.

Gerry said...

I don't know why you think we don't want to hear about Baby. I have listened to so many long dog tales and read so many bloggers dog tales I am down right disappointed when you cut short your comments thinking they might bore. I still look for good dog books and read them. I am glad you are blogging more. I do enjoy reading every entry even if I don't comment, I am enjoying it.

kanyonlandking-annk.blogspot.com said...

Those pictures of Baby and Mikye on Gerry's blog made me lonesome for Taz and Gomez (so I put them up)..I do get a kick out of the things dogs do...like run away and act up! I am enjoying your blog from Austin Texas. I enjoy everyone sharing their Christmas, like Colette today. We can join you for Christmas...

Anonymous said...

Kid. Keep the tank full on the long highway of life and should you find yourself stranded-just wave. (wait..i wrote that as an ending line in a poem about you once in 2006. Post paptagonia. Oi i must find.)